SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut mission arrives at the International Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX's latest astronaut mission for NASA has reached its destination.

The Crew-5 mission launched yesterday (Oct. 5) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending a Dragon capsule aloft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. That Dragon, named Endurance, caught up with the International Space Station (ISS) today (Oct. 6), after a 29-hour orbital chase.

Endurance made contact with the forward port of the station's Harmony module at 5:01 p.m. EDT (2101 GMT), while the two spacecraft were flying over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. The docking operation was completed about 10 minutes later.

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The hatches between Endurance and the ISS opened around 6:45 p.m. EDT (2245 GMT), and the Crew-5 astronauts — NASA's Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan's Koichi Wakata and cosmonaut Anna Kikina — floated aboard the orbiting lab about 10 minutes later. They'll live on the ISS for five months.

The new arrivals will say a few words during a welcome ceremony, which is slated to occur at 8:05 p.m. EDT (0005 GMT on Oct. 7). You can watch it live here at

Mann and Kikina have the honor of carrying personal mantles for this mission: Mann is the first Native American woman in space, and Kikina is the first cosmonaut to fly on a SpaceX Dragon. Both are spaceflight rookies, as is Cassada; Wakata has now been to space five times.

The Dragon Endurance also ferried SpaceX's Crew-3 mission to the ISS and back. SpaceX operates a fleet of four Crew Dragon capsules, which are refurbished and tested before each reflight. Endurance flew with a combination of new and previously flown components, including a new heat shield, parachutes and nose cone. 

SpaceX is also well known for flying used rockets, but the Crew-5 liftoff featured a Falcon 9 with a brand-new first stage. The booster, painted with NASA's worm logo, was bright white, free of the soot that's a familiar sight on the company's reflown first stages.

"We do like getting the new boosters," Steve Stich, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, said in a post-launch press conference yesterday. 

“Every time SpaceX puts a new booster in the fleet, they continue to make … safety improvements to the boosters," Stich explained. "We like the reflown boosters, but … getting a new booster gets us some upgrades and some safety improvements, which we appreciate a massive amount."

The Crew-5 astronauts are joining seven crewmates already aboard the ISS, four of whom are members of SpaceX's Crew-4 mission. Crew-5's arrival begins the countdown for Crew-4's departure from the station, which will happen in about a week, said Sarah Walker, director for Dragon mission management at SpaceX. 

The exact timing of Crew-4's splashdown return off the coast of Florida is dependent on weather, Walker said during yesterday's post-launch press conference. 

"So, we'll continue to watch the weather," she said. "The vehicle that is onboard supporting the Crew-4 mission is healthy, and we'll just watch for those conditions to safely bring the crew home."

Editor's note: This story was updated at 7 p.m. EDT with news of hatch opening and the Crew-5 astronauts' move from Endurance to the ISS.

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Josh Dinner
Writer, Content Manager

Josh Dinner is's Content Manager. He is a writer and photographer with a passion for science and space exploration, and has been working the space beat since 2016. Josh has covered the evolution of NASA's commercial spaceflight partnerships, from early Dragon and Cygnus cargo missions to the ongoing development and launches of crewed missions from the Space Coast, as well as NASA science missions and more. He also enjoys building 1:144 scale models of rockets and human-flown spacecraft. Find some of Josh's launch photography on Instagram and his website, and follow him on Twitter, where he mostly posts in haiku.